What is healthcare in Costa Rica like?

Facilities and Health Information

Costa Rica actively promotes medical tourism. While the perceived advantages are affordable costs, quality health care, and a chance to recuperate and have a vacation at the same time, there are also risks.

Medical tourists should confirm that the facilities they intend to use are accredited and have an acceptable level of care. They should also purchase medical evacuation insurance before travelling, and should confirm that the cost and payment for their treatment is clearly understood by both parties. Persons with unpaid or disputed debts in Costa Rica may be legally prevented from leaving the country.

In the event of unforeseen medical complications or malpractice, medical tourists may not be covered by their personal insurance or may not be able to seek damages through malpractice lawsuits. Although many hospitals and clinics abroad have medical malpractice insurance, seeking compensation can prove to be difficult because insurance laws and legal options may not exist. Be aware that if you should need or wish to be transferred to a hospital in the United States and do not have medical evacuation insurance, an air ambulance flight can cost upwards of US$20,000 and will often take place only after you (or your loved ones) have paid for it.

Medical care in San Jose is generally adequate, but is limited in areas outside of San Jose. Most prescription and over-the-counter medications are available throughout Costa Rica. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. A list of local doctors and medical facilities can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in San Jose’s website.. An ambulance may be summoned by calling 911. Most ambulances provide transportation but little or no medical assistance.

Malaria can occur in some rural locations, but is not commonly encountered. However, Costa Rica regularly experiences outbreaks of dengue fever in much of the country. Unlike some of the other mosquito-borne illnesses, there is no medical prophylactic or curative regimen for dengue. Travelers should take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes to reduce the chance of contracting the illness, such as avoiding standing water, wearing long sleeves and pants in both day and night, and applying insect repellent regularly. On July 2, 2013, the Ministry of Health declared a health alert due to the increase in cases of dengue.

Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved


Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved


Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


People Living with HIV/AIDS


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved


Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved

improved: urban: 99% of population

rural: 97.1% of population

total: 98.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 1% of population

rural: 2.9% of population

total: 1.3% of population

Sanitation Facility Access - % of rural population improved


Infectious Diseases - degree of risk

degree of risk: intermediate

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Food or Waterborne Disease (s)

bacterial diarrhea

Vectorborne Disease (s)

dengue fever

Disability Access In Costa Rica


While in Costa Rica, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation limited. Costa Rica has legislation that mandates access to transportation, communication and public buildings for persons with disabilities, but the government does not effectively enforce these laws. Many buildings, including hotels, restaurants, and bars, remain inaccessible, and the Costa Rican Ombudsman’s Office has received several reports of noncompliance with accessibility requirements or malfunctioning of hydraulic wheelchair lifts for public transportation. We are not aware of any special currency or customs circumstances for Costa Rica.


You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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